Cougs battle reeling Utes

WSU looks for revenge over Utah after falling to them on road earlier this season



Freshman forward CJ Elleby dribbles the ball against Colorado on Wednesday at Beasley Coliseum.

DYLAN GREENE, Evergreen deputy sports editor

WSU men’s basketball looks for its fourth win in its last five games when they battle Utah on Saturday at Beasley Coliseum.

The Cougars (11-15, 4-9) are coming off a hard-fought 76-74 home win over Colorado on Thursday. WSU ended the Buffaloes’ five-game winning streak with the victory and got revenge on a Colorado team that defeated the Cougars 92-60 in Boulder earlier this season.

WSU’s win over the Buffaloes featured 22 lead changes and 12 ties. Senior forward Robert Franks said the Cougs were caught off guard by the tight matchup.

“We anticipated it going back and forth and going down to the wire and it was a good win to gut out,” he said.

Junior power forward Isaiah Wade made a layup with 1:24 left in the contest that ultimately became the game-winning basket.

Head Coach Ernie Kent said the narrow defeat at home to UW last Saturday helped his young, inexperienced team learn how to manage games down the stretch.

“It makes the game at times difficult to coach because you have to do so much to help them understand it but it makes it very satisfying to coach when it all comes together,” Kent said.

WSU got contributions from all over the court in the win as four Cougars scored in double-digits, led by Franks with 19 points and six rebounds.

The Cougars opponent Saturday is coming off a 62-45 loss to UW on Wednesday night in Seattle. The Utes (14-12, 8-6) shot an abysmal 28 percent from the field in the game and only managed to score 18 points in the second half.

Senior guard Sedrick Barefield was the only Utah player to score in double figures in the game, finishing with 12 points. The Utes also turned the ball over 18 times against the conference’s leader in field goal percentage defense.

After losing eight of their first nine conference games, the Cougars have bounced back and won three of their last four contests. On the other hand, Utah has dropped its past two contests after going on a three-game winning streak.

The Utes took down the Cougars 88-70 in a matchup in Salt Lake City earlier this year, but Franks did not play in that game due to injury.

WSU was without junior guard Carter Skaggs in its win over Colorado. Kent said Skaggs took an elbow to the chin in the game against UW and is questionable for the matchup with Utah.

Kent said he is proud of the way his team has been able to fight through adversity this season, but he wants to make sure they stay humble and don’t get too full of themselves.

“I want our guys to continue to feel just how much better they’ve gotten over time … they just need to stay grounded with the success and want more success,” Kent said.

Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. Saturday at Beasley Coliseum. The game can also be seen on Pac-12 Networks.